First 2018 weekend was phenomenal
The variable weather and rusty driving skills, none of that got in the way of the enormous fun had by all at Laguna. We had 99% green flag racing, and while we did have one injury, overall the driving standards were exemplary. 35 cars, 10 more than last year entered making sure everyone got a race. This weekend's high levels of sportsmanship and camaraderie made this a wonderful event for all involved.
But First some huge thanks and appreciation
The tone for the weekend was set with a wonderful party hosted by Geir Ramleth at his lovely home in Carmel. Geir really went all out with amazing food, wine and a heated chalet for the over 60 people that came. Also huge thanks to Ivey engines for sending Colin down, Roger Kraus for the prize of new Avon tires, Ed Lauber of www.vehiclesforcharity.com and Martin Lauber of19york.com for the post-race party, Jim Cody for scoring, Chris Duranowski for manning the scales, John Anderson Racing for hauling and support of said scales. Also a huge thanks to Cris Vandagriff and the HMSA crew for putting on a fantastic weekend and for the Series Podium Trophies. Cris had an enormously important announcement we will cover in the next update. And not least, the Kitchen Family vineyard provided the usual amazing wine, their 2013 Twisting Turns Cabernet.
It was a challenge for everyone, for many, it was their first time at Laguna and for everyone else their first time in a race car in months. Qualifying provided just 25 minutes to get loosened up and earn the best starting spot possible. Art Hebert set an overall pole of 1:39, and behind him the usual 3-4 groups emerged with Ed Van Tasell, Tom Minnich, Mike Wirrick, Jason Cowdrey, Chris Schoap, Jim Cody, Kim Marid and Paul Kitchen all covered by less than a second and Dan Wise, Steve Hoogs, Jeff Rothman, Mith Roth, Adom Moutafian and Tom La Costa all covered by .7 sec. Ed Lauber is now pushing into the top of the grid, part of the group covered by less than .5, that included newcomer Laurent Parmentier, Dave Alvarado and Geir Ramleth in their immaculate Titan Mk 6s. Southern California drivers Todd Gerstenberg, Todd Strong and Erik Inkrott got faster and faster as the session went on, and Laguna veteran Danny Baker, looked more and more comfortable in his new Lotus 69. By the time qualifying ended Martin Lauber had P2 overall and historic ford in hand and Todd Strong and Eric Inkrott P1 and P2 in Club Ford. Andrew Wait got P3 in historic ford as did Jeff Rothman in Club.
Rain and the possibility of more, found drivers and crew looking up at the sky, and at the radar pictures on their phones trying to figure out whether to go out on a dry set up and in some cases, whether to race at all. For sure the berms and edges of the track would hold residual moisture, but how the track would be, looked like anyone's guess. As the cars lined up and filed out on their pace lap, everyone on a dry set up was celebrating; it was clear, in spite of the menacing sky, it would be a dry race. A very spread out start immediately divided the group up into about 3 distinct battles and evolved over a tense 25 minutes as the spooky damp spots on the track dried out and everyone tried to establish a rhythm. At the front Todd Strong and Dan Cowdrey ran into the distance battling with Art Hebert. Martin Lauber ran in the thick of that group until his engine went off-song with a fuel system failure, earning the first heartbreak award of the weekend. Martin kept circulating hoping his sick motor would at least leave him in a points-paying spot... sadly not to be. Further back Danny Baker, Todd Gerstenberg, Eric Inkrott and Andrew Wait traded places repeatedly with Danny eventually solidifying his P3 in Historic Ford managing a great outcome with a car that lacked top end power. Ed Lauber, Dan Wise, Laurent Parmentier Jeff Rothman, Ed Lauber, Geir Ramleth, and Ed Van Tassel (hard charger of the weekend) all ran best laps within .3 seconds of each other, eventually Geir, Laurent, and Ed Lauber broke away for a dice that would end when Geir spun to the inside of Turn 4 and injured his hand on the kickback from the steering wheel.
At the finish line Jack Wilson, Jay Streets, George Jewett, Jonathan Kitchen, drag raced out of Turn 11 in a group, just behind another tight group with Jim Cody (clearly Laguna is home for Jim) Kim Madrid, Chris Schoap in a pack and the points paying spot earned by Steve Hoogs and Jason Cowdrey.
The Historic Podium was Dan Cowdrey, Art Hebert, and Danny Baker, the Club Podium was Todd Strong (a sublime overall P1) Eric Inkrott and 2017 Crossflow award recipient Dan Wise in P3.
There were exceptional drives all up and down the grid, with Ed Van Tassel earning a well deserved hard charger... both for speed and sportsmanship. As many passes as he made, Ed left everyone room. Laurent Parmentier completed a very cool trifecta, first race, first drive at Laguna, event in a formula ford. Jonathan Kitchen, Jay Streets and George Jewett, not only battled hard, but managed the swarm of front-runners with complete poise.
In the Masters Championship standings, Dan Wise leads, followed by Jeff Rothman, Steve Hoogs, Jim Cody, Jonathan Kitchen and George Jewett.
- We had a number of passes under yellow during qualifying, mostly due to a point-by. Note, if you get pointed by under yellow, you should not pass the car ahead. The corner workers and stewards cannot usually see the point-by and you will be black flagged. Black flags in our sport are bad, and multiple offenses will lead to your being barred by the host clubs. The exception to Passing under yellow is this; if the car is clearly broken, running slowly off-line. If that is the case, accept the point-by if under yellow. Drivers with broken cars, under a yellow please keep your hand in the air.
Starts still ragged - We will be rolling out a new policy to try to fix this. The importance of a start where everyone is within 10 feet of the cars ahead and behind, and rolling at the same steady speed when the green flag drops, is this. When we have a tight start, as we did on the Sunday club race, 1 person gets lapped. When we have a spread out, fast rolling start as we did on Saturday, 10 drivers get lapped. Being lapped increases risk,increases stress and reduces everyone's fun...especially when being lapped means by 7-8 cars, rather than one or two. Spread out starts are caused by drivers in the middle and back allowing 3-4 car length gaps emerge, either due to caution or a setting up for a slingshot. They are also caused by pace laps that are too fast, and pace by the front row that is too high.
New Start Policy - From now on, the front row will roll in first gear, 3500-4000 revs for the last half mile or so prior to the start and will not accelerate past that speed until the green flag waves. The drivers at the middle and back, must not fall behind and the host clubs will shake a furled black flag at you if you allow more than a car length to emerge within a half mile (turn 9 at sonoma, turn 13 at Thunderhill, turn 10 at Laguna) for the start line.
Sunday's start was terrific and resulted in a great race for everyone, without the worry of fast cars weaving through. To see what that looks like, see Laurent's video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUBPn-P_5II&t=1415s
Sonoma Raceway and CSRG host the next stop in the Series. We are expecting over 40 cars, so bring your best self to the most challenging circuit of the series.
This will be another epic event and usually the loveliest weather and best racing conditions of the year.
You can register here. https://www.motorsportreg.com/events/2018-csrg-david-love-vintage-races-sonoma-raceway-223236
If you want to add points to your tally, the next triple appearance points race is the High Desert Challenge with VARA. Anyone that attends this race will add 6 appearance points to their tally. We want everyone out racing as much as they can and supporting their clubs! You can register for that here.